Thursday, 19 July 2012

Self Defense - Takedowns

Push above the knee while pulling up behind the ankle

s you probably noticed, I’m starting to introduce self defense techniques that require some practise.

Readers of this blog have a wide variety of interests. Many are involved in various martial arts; many too who are non-martial artists who enjoy reading about the martial arts approach to health and well being, as well as self defense.

Today, I’d like to explore a type of technique called a takedown. A takedown is a “catch all” type of term which may include throwing an attacker’s leg, sweeping or tripping an attacker off his feet, pulling an attacker down from all angles, etc.

Good takedowns are fast and unpredictable - and always end up with the attacker on the floor in an inferior defensive position.

One of my favourites is a front takedown. We practise this one all the time and I have some students who can strike an attacker repeatedly, take him down and finish him with more strikes on the ground - in a matter of a few seconds.

A Judo takedown


Let’s take a close look at this particular technique -

1.  I first learned this against a static attacker. We had a very basic approach - clap your hands together  high in front of his face to startle and distract him; drop down on one knee - and as you drop down on your knee, push down with your forearm on his leg just above his knee while pulling the back of his ankle toward you with your other hand.

If I’m pushing down on his right leg with my right arm, I like to drop down on my left knee. My right leg will remain bent, acting as a barrier between his left leg and his right leg.

My leg position also opens up the area of his groin for a subsequent attack. And it prevents him from kicking me with his left leg after he falls to the ground.

2.  There is a much softer version done in many systems of Kung Fu where the arm drops like a very relaxed elbow strike. The effect is almost leg shattering. The inside of the femur actually quivers for a long time afterward - and it feels like a type of poison has entered the body. It’s to be used quite judiciously - and carefully.

In Kung Fu, the Achilles tendon is grasped in a tight claw hold. The defender actually tries to tear the tendon away from the rest of the leg.

A leg scissor takedown from Kung Fu


We spend a lot of time practising front takedowns against a variety of attacks from different directions. We try not to isolate the technique, relying solely on it for defense. We include it with  a battery of strikes and kicks so that it becomes part of our overall approach to any self defense situation.

The next post in this series will feature another takedown from the front, this time with a rear choke finish!

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